Category Archives: Dividends

WisdomTree Wins ETF of Year at ETF.com Awards As ProShares Walks Away With 4 Statues

It’s award time again.

Much like Spring follows Winter, although reports of more snow this weekend are leading some to question that, the ETF industry starts its period of self-congratulations on the heels of the Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes.

ETF.com, the self-proclaimed world’s leading authority on exchange-traded funds, started the season off with their second annual awards banquet.

“Our awards try to recognize the products that make a difference to investors,” said Matt Hougan, president of ETF.com. “The ones finding new areas to put money to work.” The awards are determined by a panel of experts chosen by ETF.com.

Held at The Lighthouse restaurant at New York’s Chelsea Piers March 19, ETF.com wins the prize for best party location. With picture windows overlooking the Hudson River, guests of the cocktail hour took in the sunset over New Jersey before the ceremony started.

The WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity (HEDJ) was the big winner, grabbing the prize for ETF of the Year, while the Market Vectors ChinaAMC China Bond (CBON) won Best New ETF. Not quite sure what the difference is between those two awards, but obviously both funds stand out from the crowd of 117 ETFs issued in 2014.

However, ProShares swept the evening, as the single provider that won the most awards. The twin funds ProShares CDS North American HY Credit (TYTE) and CDS Short North American HY Credit (WYDE) claimed the awards for both Most Innovative New ETF and Best New Fixed-Income ETF.

“We designed these ETFs for investors who want high yield credit exposure that is isolated from interest rate risk,” said Steve Cohen, ProShares managing director.

The fund was also nominated for Best Ticker of the Year with its homophones for “tight” and “wide”. However, the awards announcer had a chuckle by claiming they really were pronounced “tighty whitey”, a reference to his jockey shorts. Best Ticker was awarded to HACK, the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF.

ProShares also won Best New Alternative ETF for the ProShares Morningstar Alternative Solution (ALTS) and Most Innovative ETF Issuer of the Year.

“We are always striving to deliver new and innovative products to allow investors to build better portfolios,” said ProShares Chief Executive Michael Sapir.

Lee Kranefuss, the man who created the iShares brand of ETFs and built them into the largest ETF issuer in the world won the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.

In the only speech of the night — thank goodness — Kranefuss said, “ETFs allow people to take control.” He likened ETFs to iTunes, saying “no longer are you limited to what the record company puts out.” He said he’s often been asked if he thought the ETF industry would take off like it has in the 15 years since iShares launched.

“Not really,” said Kranefuss, “we just put out the best products we could put out.”

The other award winners:

Best New U.S. Equity ETF – iShares Core Dividend Growth (DGRO)
Best New International/Global Equity ETF – Deutsche X-trackers Harvest MSCI All China Equity (CN)
Best New Commodity ETF – AdvisorShares Gartman Gold/Euro (GEUR) and AdvisorShares Gartman Gold/Yen (GYEN).
Best New Asset Allocation ETF – Global X /JPMorgan Efficiente (EFFE)
ETF Issuer of the Year – First Trust
New ETF Issuer of the Year – Reality Shares
Index Provider of the Year – MSCI
Index of the Year – Bloomberg Dollar Index
Best Online Broker for ETF-Focused Investors – TD Ameritrade
Best ETF Offering for RIAs – Charles Schwab
Best ETF Issuer Website – BlackRock

Guggenheim to Close FAA and 8 Other ETFs

And the death knell continues.

Guggenheim Investments announced Friday it will liquidate in March nine exchange traded funds that have under performed in terms of gathering assets. The New York firm said it will focus resources on products that have demonstrated the most demand. The nine ETFs together hold a total of $144 million, roughly 1% of Guggenheim’s $13.7 billion in ETF assets. That’s an average of $16 million in assets per fund.

“Guggenheim remains committed to the ETF business,” said William Belden, head of product development. Guggenheim Investments, the investment management division of Guggenheim Partners, has become the eighth-largest ETF provider since purchasing the Claymore and Rydex ETF families.

The nine funds to close:

Guggenheim ABC High Dividend ETF
(ABCS)
Guggenheim MSCI EAFE Equal Weight (EWEF)
Guggenheim S&P MidCap 400 Equal Weight ETF (EWMD)
Guggenheim S&P SmallCap 600 Equal Weight ETF (EWSM)
Guggenheim Airline ETF (FAA)
Guggenheim 2x S&P 500 ETF (RSU)
Guggenheim Inverse 2x S&P 500 ETF (RSW)
Wilshire 5000 Total Market ETF (WFVK)
Wilshire 4500 Completion ETF (WXSP)

The most shocking of the bunch is the Guggenheim Airline ETF, the only ETF to track the airline industry. And of course, the disappearance of that great ticker, FAA. Granted the airline industry is a notoriously risky investment. Still, it’s pretty shocking that this fund has only $20.7 million in assets under management and an average daily volume of just 9,000 shares considering it surged 33% in 2012, twice the gain of the S&P 500. And year to date, FAA is up 13.6% vs. the 7.6% rise in the S&P, according to Morningstar.

Most ETF liquidations occur in funds that have a small-niche appeal. So, it’s disheartening that an ETF following the index that tracks the entire stock market, the Wilshire 5000 Total Market ETF (WFVK), couldn’t garner more than $9 million in assets.

The liquidating funds’ last day of trading on the NYSE Arca and the final date for creation and redemption activity is expected to be Friday, March 15, 2013. The ETFs will be delisted, Monday, March 18. Shareholders remaining in the affected ETFs as of close of business March 21, will have their shares liquidated as of that date’s closing net asset value. The liquidation proceeds will be distributed on or about March 22. The net asset value of each affected ETF on March 21 will reflect expenses encountered in closing the ETF.

T.Rowe Cautiously Optimistic on Stocks

Mutual fund firm T. Rowe Price said now is the time buy equities and predicted that real gross domestic product will grow 2.25% in 2013 at a press briefing in New York today. 

While the U.S. fiscal cliff combined with uncertainty over U.S. policy and regulations, the European debt crisis and China’s hard landing have dampened investor sentiment, John Linehan, T Rowe’s director of U.S. equity, said, the market headwinds will diminish in the coming year. Linehan said there is a “tug of war” between these headwinds and market tailwinds such as strong corporate fundamentals, attractive valuations, decisive monetary policy actions to support economic recovery, improving housing and labor markets and a deleveraging of consumer debt. In the end, he thinks the tug of war will prove positive for stocks. 

The fiscal cliff may cause a small recession in early 2013, but politicians will solve the problem, lowering the deficit and sparking a rebound in the second half of the year, said Alan Levenson, T. Rowe’s chief economist.  He expects the final deal will end the Bush tax cuts for upper income earners, the 2% payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits. Both analysts expect the tax rate on dividends to rise. Levenson said real gross domestic product should grow 1.5% in the current quarter and 2.25% next year. He expects the unemployment rate to fall 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points in 2013. 

Stock chief Linehan points to a few reasons to be cautiously optimistic. He said the price-to-earnings ratio on the S&P 500 is a low valuation of 13. The market’s current low valuations combined with strong corporate balance sheets suggest stocks are poised to perform well from here, he said. 

He also said the heavy net inflows into bond funds since 2007 will reverse as retail investors seek higher returns and begin to embrace risk.  Linehan finds the following investment themes to be attractive:

  • Companies with exposure to emerging market consumers.
  • Derivative plays on the housing recovery.
  • Companies with growing dividend payments. 
  • Providers of new treatments in healthcare.
  • Companies with exposure to mobile and cloud computing.
  • Compelling “sum-of-the-parts” valuations in energy. 

 

ING Likes Value Stocks, Emerging Markets and Europe in 2013

Just like the Christmas season, forecast season rolls around this time of year with investment advisors predicting what the new year holds and where we should all be putting our investment dollars. Ahead of us looms the fiscal cliff, a combination of tax increases and large government spending cuts that could chop as much as 4% out of the gross domestic product. Should the fiscal cliff go into effect it could put the current tepid economic recovery into jeopardy.

In a press briefing at ING’s offices Tuesday, Paul Zemsky, ING Investment Management’s chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies, said he expects the fiscal cliff to be resolved by the end of this year, with a negative impact of just 1% to 1.5% to GDP. He expects to see an end to the payroll tax holiday and the Bush tax cuts for the highest-income brackets. He also expects capital gains taxes to rise to 20% and dividend taxes to revert back to taxpayers’ regular rate from 15% now. Should the Congress wait until after the new year, Zemsky expects to see a major sell off in the equity markets. “It could be as much as a 10% drop, but we would expect this to be a V-shape bounce because the government would have to fix the problem. We would consider this a buying opportunity should it happen.”

Stocks remain cheap relative to bonds, said Zemsky, and both U.S. and global equities are attractive investments right now with price-to-earnings ratios around 15. Zemsky said the housing market has bottomed and is poised to rise, however investors have not yet realized this. As housing prices bottom, this makes collateral stronger, said Zemsky, adding now is the time to increase investments in U.S. financial stocks.

Overall, ING expects 2013 will bring modest growth in the U.S., continued growth in emerging markets and the end of the European recession. Zemsky’s overall forecast predicts U.S. GDP to see 2% to 3% growth next year, which will lead to 5% to 7% earnings growth in the S&P 500. He expects the S&P 500 to grow 8% to 10% next year with a year-end target price between 1550 and 1600. U.S. value stocks and emerging market equities look especially attractive in 2013.

The most popular ETFs tracking these areas of the market are the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) and the Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (VWO). Click here for a list of ETFs that track U.S. value stocks.

Zemsky added that it might be time to begin overweighting European equities. He said people are too negative on Europe. While there is still risk in there, he said the Euro Zone is beginning to stabilize and this could lead to higher equity prices. Click here for a list of ETFs that track European stocks.

As for the bond market, Christine Hurtsellers, ING’s chief investment officer of fixed income and proprietary investments, said the U.S. market is not pricing in any changes in policy from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. She says it’s time to underweight U.S. Treasury bonds and high quality investment grade U.S. credit. She recommends moving into emerging market debt, especially high-grade sovereign debt. The PowerShares Emerging Markets Sovereign Debt Portfolio (PCY) covers this market.

ETFs to Buy on Outcome of Election

Election season always brings out investment professionals offering advice on how to best invest for both a Republican and Democratic outcome.

SPDR University, the ETF information arm of State Street Global Advisors, released a report yesterday, Election 2012: A Time of Polarizing Politics & Heightened Uncertainty, outlining the best ETFs to hold depending on who you think will win. Written by David Mazza, State Street’s head of ETF investment strategy, it’s no surprise that all the recommended funds comes from SPDR.

In this low interest rate environment, high yielding equities have been a favorite among investors. Under a Mitt Romney win, Mazza expects favorable tax treatment for dividends to continue, thus companies that pay dividends would be big beneficiaries. Certain sectors and industries would also benefit under a Romney administration. Increased domestic production would help the energy sector, while less regulation would boost the metals and mining sector. A less restrictive tax environment would help the transportation industry and an increase, or at least few cuts, in defense spending would help the aerospace and defense sector.

The ETFs SPDR suggests for a Romney win:

SPDR S&P® Dividend ETF (SDY)
Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLU)
SPDR S&P Telecom ETF (XTL)
Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE)
SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP)
SPDR S&P Metals and Mining ETF (XME)
SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN)
SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF (XAR)

Under another four years of President Obama taxes are likely to rise. Mazza suggests municipal bonds to investors in higher tax brackets. If taxes rise on dividends, REITs would offer a better choice for investors seeking income. However, increased government spending could spark a rally in the infrastructure sector. The healthcare industry should also “react favorably” to the president’s reelection.

The ETFs SPDR suggests for an Obama win:
SPDR Nuveen Barclays Capital Short Term Municipal Bond ETF (SHM)
SPDR Nuveen Barclays Capital Municipal Bond ETF (TFI)
SPDR Nuveen S&P High Yield Municipal Bond ETF (HYMB)
SPDR Dow Jones REIT ETF (RWR)
SPDR FTSE/Macquarie Global Infrastructure 100 ETF (GII)
Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV)
SPDR S&P Health Care Services ETF (XHS)
SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI)

Should the political paralysis that has gripped Washington over the past two years continue in the future, preventing major changes, Mazza suggests non-dollar denominated assets and those with low to no correlation to dollar-denominated assets. This could lead to a broad move away from U.S. assets to those in high growth emerging markets. For those looking to invest in local currencies, he suggests non-US fixed income. Gold would continue to rise if countries continue to devalue their currencies to boost exports or the U.S faces another debt crisis. And with increased government spending leading to a long-term inflationary environment, assets with a real return should rally.

The ETFs SPDR suggests for an political paralysis:

SPDR Barclays Capital Emerging Markets Local Bond ETF
(EBND)
SPDR Gold Trust (GLD)
SPDR SSgA Multi-Asset Real Return ETF (RLY)

BP’s Legal Drama Could Impact These EFTs

Reading List – a sample of what’s going on in ETF Land:


BP’s Legal Drama Could Impact These EFTs
: Shares of oil company BP lost 4% after the U.S. Department of Justice said its 2010 oil spill was a case of gross negligence. With a settlement unlikely, here are the ETFs likely to fall if BP’s fortunes continue to sink.

4 International ETFs Yielding more than 5%: Many international dividend paying stocks pay out much higher yields than U.S. stocks. The combination of high yields and international exposure at the same time looks pretty enticing.

Exactly How Many ETFs Are Going to Close?: According to ETF Deathwatch, 25% of all U.S. ETFs face a risk of closing. Any ETF or ETN that is at least six months old and fails to generate at least $100,000 in average daily trading volume the preceding month joins the list. However, considering many of these ETFs come from sponsors that can afford to keep floundering funds open, the number is really closer to 18%.

3 Inverse ETFs For September: September is one of the worst months for stocks. Here are three inverse ETFs that capitalize on negative trends in the world.


New ‘Tail Hedge’ ETF Hunts Black Swans
: The tail hedging strategy protects a portfolio from extreme market oscillations as a result of unpredictable, random and unexpected events, or so-called Black Swan events.

iShares Losing Market Share to Low Cost Providers

Reading List:

iShares losing market share to cheaper competitors. As of July 9, iShares held 40.7% of U.S. ETF assets, down from 43.2% two years ago. Meanwhile, Vanguard’s share grew to 17.7% from 15.9% two years ago.

Three income ETFs that can give you well-diversified exposure to some of the top dividend-paying stocks.

So many ETFs look alike. Here’s how to find a winner.

JPMorgan Caps Shares of Alerian MLP ETN

Obviously, the big news from JPMorgan Chase this week was Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon apologizing to the Senate Banking Committee for his firm’s recent multibillion-dollar trading loss. And while not nearly as momentous as the Dimon hearing, JPMorgan also released some highly unusual news to ETF Land.

The firm on Thursday put a limit on the number of shares it’s willing to create for its Alerian MLP Index ETN (AMJ), essentially making the exchange traded note act like a closed-end fund. JPMorgan capped maximum issuance of shares at 129 million exchange traded notes. As of June 13, JPMorgan Chase had issued 117.95 million ETNs with an aggregate market capitalization of $4.29 billion based on the $36.39 closing price.

Limiting the number of shares means that the ETN will not allow creation units once that number is met. This turns the ETN from an open-end investment vehicle into one that acts like a closed-end fund. This occurs because the arbitrage mechanism that allows market makers to create or sell shares to capture the difference between the indicative value and the price at which the share trades is no longer available. Unable to create shares, market makers are less likely to take on the risk of shorting the shares. Thus, the price of the ETN may trade at a premium or discount to its indicated value depending on the demand for the notes. Of course, if shares are redeemed, the ETN can later create more shares until the limit is hit again.

MLPs, or master limited partnerships, are limited partnerships that invest in natural resources, or companies that provide services such as pipeline companies that transport oil or natural gas. These companies offer large dividends and have been very popular since the fiscal crisis. Over the past 18 months assets in exchange traded products that hold MLPs has grown from nearly nothing to about $7.55 billion. Nearly all of that inflow sits in two products, AMJ, which has $4.2 billion in asset under management, and the ALPS Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP), with $3.25 billion.

“When AMJ reaches the maximum threshold, we will closely monitor the availability of AMJ notes available in stock loan as well as any premium in the funds pricing on the secondary market,” said Chris Hempstead, director of ETF execution services at Wallach Beth Capital. “This could bode well in the short term for existing holders of AMJ as the fund will likely trade at a premium once the creation facility is shut down. Early investors would not have expected this so it’s a win for them. That being said, once this happens I expect investors looking at MLP ETPs will be drawn away from the AMJ ETN and towards [other ETNS].”

Competing ETNs include the ALPS product as well as recent launches such as the Yorkville High Income MLP ETF (YMLP), with just $37 million in assets, and the Global X MLP ETF (MLPA), which has only $5 million.

Hempstead says because these ETNs will continue issue creation units, they will continue to trade close to their indicative values. This will make them more attractive investments as AMJ’s share price diverts from its indicative value.

6 Stocks to Sell Now

Notwithstanding the stock market’s March 6 swoon, investors have enjoyed solid profits so far this year. Most stocks have seen their prices rise, with the lowest-quality companies performing the best. Still, companies with problems will eventually see their share prices fall. So now is a perfect time to get rid of the dogs in your portfolio — before they shed their fleas.

We think the stocks of the six companies below are unattractive because they have fundamental problems with their businesses, not just high stock prices. Although a few have already experienced significant share-price declines, we think you should get out now if you still own them. And if you’re an aggressive investor, consider these stocks prime candidates to sell short.

Start with Groupon (symbol GRPN). The Chicago-based daily-deals company has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the hype surrounding social media. It arranges deals with local merchants, e-mails the bargains to its millions of subscribers, then splits the revenues with the merchants. Groupon’s initial public offering debuted at $20 in November. The stock peaked at $31.14 on its first day of trading, but within a month tumbled below $15. It now trades at $18.13 (all prices are as of the March 3 close).

Groupon may be the first company in this business, but there are no barriers to entry and competition is heating up. In addition to other start-ups, such as Living Social, deep-pocketed giants Amazon and Google have entered the market, as well as big media firms, such as the Washington Post and New York Times.

Groupon’s numbers are starting to reflect the tougher climate. Although its revenues soared 419% in 2011, quarterly revenue growth in North America declined every quarter last year. Operating expenses jumped 149% in 2011, and the company has yet to post a profit.

Most worrisome is the company’s history of using the bulk of early venture-capital funding to buy stock from insiders, instead of investing in the business. That leads one to believe the shares could crater on May 4, when the 180-day lock-up ends and insiders get their first chance to sell stock in the public market.

It’s risky taking on a Wall Street darling, which Salesforce.com (CRM) became after moving into cloud computing, a technology that lets companies access their data from anywhere over the Web. Since November 2008, shares of the San Francisco-based provider of customer-relationship-management software have surged nearly six-fold, to $142.08.

But we see storm clouds on the horizon that many investors are ignoring. For the fourth quarter that ended January 31, Salesforce reported that revenues jumped 38%, to $632 million. That’s not bad. The problem is that operating expenses grew just as fast. Moreover, Salesforce’s balance sheet shows that the company has only enough short-term assets on hand to cover 72% of its short-term debts, suggesting that Salesforce could soon experience a cash crunch.

Much more disturbing is the company’s own view of the future. For the fiscal year that ends next January, Salesforce predicts that revenue growth will fall to 29% from 37% last year. The stock, meanwhile, sells for 90 times the $1.60 or so per share that Salesforce forecasts it will earn in the January 2013 fiscal year. Investors may well have their heads in the cloud to award Salesforce’s shares such a stratospheric price.

For the other four stocks go to Kiplinger.com.

Currency and Emerging Market ETFs Look Good for 2012

Since ETFs merely track asset classes or stock sectors, what works in ETFland is what worked in the markets in general. ETFs that tracked income producing dividend stocks, such as utilities and consumer staples, did very well, as did funds tracking U.S. Treasurys, oil and gold. Meanwhile, emerging markets took a big hit this year, as did alternative energy and natural gas.

In deciding whom to read on what will be the trends next year, I looked to the place with the most appropriate name, ETF Trends. Here are ETF Trends’ top five predictions and the ETFs to track these trends.

Currency ETFs: With more investors seeking to hedge currency risk, as well as use currency to make a bet on the Eurozone debt crisis, currency ETFs should see a lot of action next year.

Emerging Markets took a bath this year, mostly from surging inflation. But the truth remains that the biggest growth will be found in emerging markets. Of course, a lot of that growth comes from selling to Europe and the U.S. and if those two areas fall into recession, we could see emerging markets fall furthers. Still, the valuations have come a lot from their lofty prices at the start of 2011. With clean balance sheets and a rising middle class, emerging markets look attractive and even if they fall some, this is where the action will be in the coming years.

Bonds are still going to be winners. With the Federal Reserve promising not to raise interest rates for another year, we won’t see a huge sell off in U.S. Treasurys. And with more potential problems in Europe, Treasurys will continue to profit from investors looking for safety. But with yields so low, it may be time to put more money into corporate debt, or even emerging market bonds.

Commodities and the falling dollar:
While the dollar has risen lately, the broader trend remains down. Meanwhile, as people worry about massive money printing in Europe and the U.S., gold will come back, especially the SPDR Gold Shares (GLD).

While gold and gold ETFs rallied in 2011, surprisingly gold miner stocks tumbled. Typically, you see leverage in gold mining stocks, with moves three to four times the same direction as gold bullion. With David Einhorn thinking “that there is a major disconnect between miners and gold prices”, ETF Trends says Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) and Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ) will move sharply higher in 2012.